Then [Jesus] opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:45-49 (NRSV)
This week’s devotional was written by Rev. Mark D. Roberts and can also be read on Fuller De Pree Center website: https://depree.org/the-promise-of-power/
In yesterday’s devotion, we examined what I called “The Greatest Bible Study Ever.” This was the study taught by Jesus to his disciples after the resurrection. Jesus, the master teacher, opened the minds of his disciples to see how his life, ministry, suffering, and death were found in the Hebrew Scriptures, including “the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms” (Luke 24:44-45).
Jesus also showed where “it is written . . . that repentance and forgiveness of sins are to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning with Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46). Luke doesn’t identify the passages in the Old Testament that Jesus referenced. I expect he may have mentioned several from Isaiah, including Isaiah 49:6, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
But Jesus did not tell his disciples to go out immediately and start proclaiming the good news of his death and resurrection. Rather, he told them, “[S]tay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Jesus did not explain what this power was, only that he was “sending upon [his disciples] what my Father promised” (24:49). This promise would surely have included what the prophet Joel said about the future outpouring of the Holy Spirit “on all flesh,” which would empower young and old, men and women, powerful and weak, slave and free to do God’s mighty work (Joel 2:28-29).
Since we are familiar with the story of early Christianity, we know that Jesus was in fact referring to what happened on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples of Jesus, miraculously empowering them to speak about “God’s deeds of power” in languages they themselves did not know (Acts 2:12). After this outpouring of the Spirit, the disciples of Jesus did proclaim “repentance and forgiveness of sins” in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. The first part of this story is narrated in Luke’s second volume, which we know as the Acts of the Apostles.
Much could be said about the relevance of Luke 24:45-49 to us. Today I want to share with you two basic implications of this passage. First, though we, as contemporary disciples of Jesus, are called into his mission, and though we have plenty of work to do, there are times when it is right to wait upon God rather than charging ahead. Those of us who are action-oriented might have a hard time with waiting. I know I do. But Scripture teaches and experience confirms that before launching some new work, even one inspired by God, good things happen when we wait upon the Lord.
Second, the disciples were to wait, not only because waiting on God has value in and of itself, but also and especially because they needed “power from on high” in order to do the work to which they had been called (Luke 24:49). There is no way the disciples of Jesus would have been able to persuade people of the truth of the gospel apart from the power of the Spirit. What was true then is true today. The good news of Jesus is not something our culture inclines us to embrace. And it doesn’t help that so many Christians have lived in a way that contradicts the truth and grace of God. So, if we are going to share the good news in a way that draws people to Christ, we need the same power Jesus promised to the first disciples. We need the power of God’s Spirit living in us and among us.
Of course, for us, there is great news. What Jesus once promised to his first disciples was given at Pentecost as the Holy Spirit was poured out on the followers of Jesus. Since then, that same Spirit is given to each person who says “Yes” to Jesus (see, for example, Romans 8:9-11).
Veni Sancte Spiritus!
P.S. That Latin phrase means “Come, Holy Spirit!” Christians throughout the world have used this prayer, in Latin or other languages, for centuries.
How are you when it comes to waiting on the Lord? If you’re good at waiting, why? If you tend to rush ahead of God’s leading, why?
When in your life have you experienced the power of the Holy Spirit?
How aware are you of God’s Spirit when you are not in “obviously spiritual” settings? What helps you to attend to the guidance of the Spirit no matter where you are?
International Cuisine Night:
The popular culinary event is coming back after a long hiatus! In the spirit of celebrating our diverse church family and the season of Pentecost, we are inviting you to sign up to prepare and serve samples of a dish honoring the country of your heritage or any country of your choosing.
As an international “chef,” you will prepare enough of your recipe for about 50 sample-sized servings to allow everyone to try it. Guests will have a unique and delicious dining experience in addition to enjoying our warm hospitality.
As in all previous years, there is no charge for this event, but we will advertise a free-will donation. All profits will benefit Ukraine refugees. Mark your calendar for Saturday, June 4th from 5 – 7 p.m. and fill out the sign-up sheet in the back of the sanctuary. Help us bring back this event with gusto!
Coffee Hour Starting Back-Up: May 22
On Sunday, May 22nd, our church will be starting coffee hour in the Fellowship Hall. For the time being, and throughout the summer, we will only be serving coffee, but we plan to resume serving food after Labor Day weekend. If you are interested in helping serve in this ministry, please connect with Grace Espeut.
Faith in Action
A huge thank you to everyone who helped to make our Faith in Action such a success. Please know that whether it was through your donations or direct service, you made a difference!
Copies of the Upper Room for May/June have finally arrived! If you would like to reserve a copy please call the office. Otherwise, they are on the back table in the sanctuary.